SOUNDS OF AMERICA
I T A M U R A
P H O T O G R A P H Y
The New York Piano Quartet offer ultra-impassioned, vividly detailed performances of Korngold and Marx to certain difficult selections such as Nos 8 and 22, while spelling out No 10’s descending arpeggios with pointed precision and an unusual yet effective accent on the sequence’s final, lowest note. No 6 is swift and casually conversational: a refreshing change from pianists who leave the music to die on a pedestal. At the same time, one must contend with Hobson’s held-back, over-pedalled No 16, effortful left-hand runs in No 3 and a prosaic, enervated No 17. I only hope that Hobson will reclaim the stimulating personality behind memorable 1980s recordings such as the London Piano School series, the Rachmaninov transcriptions and a group of Chopin/Godowsky studies that provided source material for Joyce Hatto’s fraudulent edition. Jed Distler
Elgar . Vaughan Williams Elgar Variations on a Original Theme, ‘Enigma’, Op 36 Vaughan Williams Fantasia on ‘Greensleeves’. The Wasps – Aristophanic Suite Kansas City Symphony Orchestra / Michael Stern Reference Recordings F RR129 (61’ • DDD)
Audophile recording for great Brits in Kansas City
Having won a Grammy with Benjamin Britten (7/11), the Kansas City Symphony sets its sights on another with a second allEnglish concert for multiple Grammy-winner Reference Recordings, featuring a revelatory Enigma Variations. From the outset, Michael Stern and his world-class band bypass the riddle by treating the theme with such spare, noble sentiment that the music takes on a transcendent air that honours the deep personal connections Elgar felt for the subjects of his variations.
In its open-hearted commitment to letting Elgar’s orchestration serve as the interpretative guide, and so moving mostly at a leisurely pace where everything that’s going can be properly heard, this performance could also serve as any person’s guide to the instruments of the orchestra, particularly when the solo playing is so expressively engaging. Greensleeves is particularly innocent and sweet, while the five movements of The Wasps are given the full virtuoso treatment.
For audiophiles, not only is the recording full of demonstration passages but the way Stern keeps stretching the climaxes such as the ones in ‘Troyte’ will show just how much a system will take. It’s one of those satisfying instances where the recording engineers have gramophone.co.uk caught perfectly the sound and sense of being there, not with implausibly pounding drums and blaring brass but with the sheer presence and weight that real sound possesses.
This album also will be released as a 200-gram half-speed-mastered LP and an HRx high-resolution DVD Data Disc containing 176.4kHz/24 bit WAV files. Laurence Vittes
Korngold . Marx Korngold Suite, Op 23 Marx Rhapsodie New York Piano Quartet Urlicht Audiovisual F UAV5996 (70’ • DDD)
Forgotten Viennese quartets rediscovered by the NYPQ The New York Piano Quartet could be considered a corporate musical archeologist, at least judging from this welcome recording. The players – all members of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra – restore life to works by the Austrian composers Joseph Marx and Erich Wolfgang Korngold long left on the shelf of history.
Marx (1882-1964) spent most of his career in Vienna as a prominent teacher and critic whose music tended to be overshadowed
GRAMOPHONE MAY 2013 III